Good gaming laptops under $500 are currently pretty rare. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for a $500 laptop with some 3D capabilities for a game here and there, but there just aren’t really good options under $500 almost never now (it was actually better few years ago). Some models with the Nvidia MX150 GPU are selling for around $550-$600 (please check the $600 listings). I would recommend either going with a used/refurbished laptop from previous generations, like the quite old Dell 7559 (used).
Also, I would advise not getting models with the old AMD A10/A12/FX CPUs (like the FX-9800P), as they are vastly limited in TDP and performance is considerably lower compared to the new stuff or Intel CPUs. The bottom line 3D performance won’t be much better or any better than old generations Intel I5 laptops.
I would suggest waiting for serious competition from AMD’s new chips, like the Ryzen 2200U and 2300U which should be available in cheaper machines, but delivering better 3D performance.
UPDATE: new models with the AMD Ryzen 2500U start to show up. Please wait to in-depth reviews and to prices to be low enough. Currently, the prices are not justifying a purchase over the Intel + Nvidia competitors
The situation is quite annoying. For those who like to keep it under $500 no matter what, I would recommend asking here in the comments or posting a question over the forums, and we’ll find something. But, for those who are willing to shell a little more, refurbished models (like the HP 15t) for $550-$600 are available in the $600 listing (linked above).
Still no in-depth reviews, but the Acer A315-41 is the first model in the US to be equipped with the AMD Ryzen 2500U APU, integrating the AMD Vega 8. 512 stream processors. For a $400-$500 laptop, this is a bump up in 3D performance.
As a comparison, the 2500U integrated Vega 8 rivaling the Nvidia GT 940MX performance level, and that’s only because the 2500U is TDP limited (15W).
As a bottom line, I would suggest keeping an eye for reviews and discounts. Although $500 is a good price for this performance level right now, other matters remain – display quality, HDD speed, keyboard and more. It might be worth it to shell another $100 for an MX150 model with an IPS and SSD.